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High Piled Storage

WHAT IS HIGH-PILED STORAGE?

High-piled storage refers to any storage of Class I-IV commodities in a warehouse that is over 12′, or over 6′ in the case of Group A plastics. In order to store above these heights, you must submit an application to the fire department that demonstrates your planned storage configuration is compliant with national, as well as other local, safety ordinances. If the fire department on one of their routine inspections finds you are storing in a high-piled configuration but do not have a permit, this leaves your business vulnerable to costly compliance citations and even the possibility of being shut down.
SNC has submitted high-piled storage plans to jurisdictions all over the country and is familiar with what is required to get you a high-piled storage permit. Not only that, but we have a perfect record doing so- we have successfully pulled a high-piled storage on every project we have submitted to the city.

THE FIRE DEPARTMENT HAS THREATENED TO SHUT ME DOWN. CAN YOU HELP?

While every situation is different, SNC has acted as a liaison between the fire department and dozens of clients across the country. Typically, the fire department is seeking active steps toward compliance. SNC can help you create a plan to move towards compliance and communicate on your behalf with the fire department to try and avoid costly sanctions, or even being shut down.

HOW HIGH CAN I STORE?

What the fire department calls the “top of storage” is contingent upon multiple codes including the NFPA, the CFC, the IBC, and all additional restraints your local authority having jurisdiction requires. The typical factors that determine top of storage are sprinkler systems, commodities being stored, and the overall site plan of your facility (fire department access, smoke vents, fire hydrants, etc…). Give us a call and our team can delve into all the tedious analysis on your behalf.

WHAT COMMODITY AM I STORING?

The Fire Department breaks down products that are stored in a warehouse into different “commodity classifications”. These classifications break all products into Class I-IV and High Hazard/Group A plastics. The higher the classification, the more dangerous the Fire Department deems a product to be. The more dangerous a product, the more requirements you must meet in order to store this product. Here are a few examples for each class:

Class I: Ceramics, glass, metal products
Class II: Incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs in cartons, foods in combustible containers, alcoholic beverages not exceeding 20% alcohol in combustible containers
Class III: Charcoal, wooden furniture, paints, sugar
Class IV: Synthetic clothing, oil-based paints, linoleum products
High Hazard/ Group A Plastics: Idle pallets, rubber tires, foam plastics, polyethylene

If you want an in-depth analysis of your product or would like to know the way a commodity classification can affect your top of storage, give us a call and we would be happy to walk you through it.

CAN YOU HELP ME DO WHAT IT TAKES TO BECOME COMPLIANT?

Not only can SNC help you create a plan to become compliant, our team can give you a turn-key number on exactly what it will take in order to achieve compliance. Our capabilities for scope of work include rack installation and reconfiguration, sprinkler system upgrades, in-rack sprinkler installation, exit door installation, smoke vent installation and much more.

WHAT SPRINKLER SYSTEM DO I HAVE?

One of the most critical factors that can determine your top of storage is your sprinkler system.
There are 3 major classifications of sprinkler systems that cover 95% of S-1 occupancy spaces.
  1. Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) systems- these systems are far and away the most flexible sprinkler system to have in your warehouse. Having an ESFR system generally provides the highest Top of Storage for Class I-IV and Group A plastics without any additional upgrades required. Of course, there are some exceptions. Give us a call and we’d be happy to talk about them with you.
  2. Control Mode Density Area (CMDA) systems- these systems are the most common sprinkler systems that we deal with. The hydraulic calculations determine whether the system can provide sufficient protection for your Class I-IV commodities. In most cases these systems are not sufficient to store Group A plastics without any additional sprinkler upgrades.
  3. Pipe Scheduled systems- these systems are only found in older buildings, typically built in the 1950s or before. Fortunately (or unfortunately for tenants), sprinkler technology as well as fire code has evolved a great deal since the installation of these systems. Typically, high-piled storage is not feasible with these systems without sprinkler upgrades.
These summaries provide a typical scenario for each these 3 major sprinkler types. Though these often hold true, every situation is different. Give us a call and we can analyze the specific parameters of your facility to determine your top of storage.

DO I NEED A STRUCTURAL PERMIT IN ORDER TO HAVE A HIGH PILED PERMIT?

If you are using any sort of structure over 5’9″ to store your product, then the fire department requires you to have a structural building permit. The fire department wants to make sure that whatever structure you are using to store your product is not a safety hazard both to your business as well as any fire fighters that will enter the building. You would not need a structural permit to obtain a high-piled storage permit if you are “floor stacking” your product, or the product is not being set upon any shelving units, pallet rack, or analogous product. Learn more about Structural Permits here.

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